Being honest with yourself can suck. I’m not talking about the passing comments in the mirror or fleeting thoughts while laying in bed. No. I’m talking about the very raw, unfiltered truths we try to mask and play hide and seek with. The truths you can only admit and experience by tearing down every excuse you’ve made, striping away every positive spin you’ve spun out of heartache, and reaching into that unadulterated core.
Now, more than ever, is the time to do so. Time to be honest. Time to face the truth.
Losing to the Hollywood Bruvs cut. Deep.
Forgive me for being blunt, but there is no fucking way we should have lost to those two. I thought we were prepared. I suppose in most ways, we were. For starters, I was finally able to light that fire in Red that had long ago burned out, well before our names were scribed in ink on those High Octane legal documents. Forget being on the same page, or chapter for that matter, we were once again in the same book. Red and Ted, united as the world beaters we long thought ourselves to be.
Fuck, even Grady bought in.
Now trust me when I say that is no small feat. The little Irishman will have you believe he works for us, and on paper, he does. But that little fucker is a swindler, and doesn’t fool me one bit. We are his meal ticket. His livelihood depends on our triumphs and subsequent marketability. Every proposition he makes comes with an ulterior motive, one geared towards fattening his bank account off the backs of ours.
So his presentation of new ring attire to help unify the long strained idea of a Red and Ted was surprising, to say the least. A little weird mind you, but a change of pace. A welcome one at that. He bought into what I had preached, and idiotically tried to symbolize by literally setting fire to our past. He wasn’t trying to take the lead for once, instead working with us rather than for himself.
Genuine or not, it’s a Grady Patrick I hadn’t had the privilege of yet meeting.
The stars had aligned, change was on the horizon, and the land was ours for the taking. Until it wasn’t. Until that cruel bitch we’ve fancifully coined as deja vu reared its ugly head. I might as well have had those fucking zip ties around my wrist again, because I once again watched my partner fail in our quest. I don’t say that pointing a finger in disappointment, mind you, for it was no fault of his own. That ladder match, it was Red who almost won. This War Games qualifier, it was Red who almost won. Both times, I’ve failed in my job to cement those outcomes. I’ve stood by idly, watching those failures occur.
No Tag Team Championships. No War Games. The record books will read The Hollywood Bruvs defeated Red and Ted and that makes me sick. It churns my stomach. It’s a gross fucking taste in my mouth that won’t be leaving anytime soon. Hoffman called it an upset. I call it a travesty. But the only one to blame is the man in the mirror.
Losing to Farthington has damaged me more than I want the world to know.
The fucking sun came up the next day, and life went on. It was something like that I said, I think. Then what? I was a lethal lottery draw, but other than that, hid in the shadows for the most part. You heard right, hid. Fun Fact: The sun may have rose the following day, but you want to know what didn’t? Or better yet, who didn’t? Teddy Palmer. Nope. Self loathing pity was the feeling of choice, not unbridled confidence and motivation. A hype train was built out of my LBI victory, and I truly thought I had taken control as it’s conductor. Hindsight is a bitch though, and it’s clear to see I was nothing more than a passenger along for the ride.
Cecilworth, you claimed to be the lion waiting at the finish line, and to your credit, you are no liar.
I brought everything I had to offer and I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me. That’s not to say I didn’t prepare. Fuck no. Quite the opposite. Prepared wouldn’t do justice in explaining my two weeks leading up to Rome. I was obsessed. The problem was, that obsession wasn’t solely focused where it needed to be.
On you, and only you.
I was overly concerned with my retribution story. I put too much into the idea I needed to win for the people. For the ninety nine percent who had been told they were nothing and would always be nothing. The idea that choosing sobriety and winning the World Championship would be a story that not only the world of wrestling would love and admire, but the world as a whole.
Nobody gives a fuck though. Those stories aren’t unique. It’s a feel good headline that fades with time. Fuck, that prick Kendrix is on his own pursuit of sobriety. Fucking copycat, find a different vice. It proves my point though, not unique by any stretch of the imagination. If I’m not even the only HOW superstar to be on such a journey, how can I expect people to care about a journey that millions of people are on? I put myself on a pedestal.
Again, hindsight, that bitch.
And by no means am I taking anything away from what Cecilworth did in that Coliseum. There’s a reason he is the World Champion. There’s a reason he is undefeated for over a year now. There’s a reason he is the face of this company.
I simply wish I could go back, and approach things differently. To not shut out and distance myself from my closest of allies. To be me, not some fabricated version. To put the focus where it always should have been. I’m not saying the outcome would be different, but at least I’d sleep easier at night. It’s likely my arm would be in the same condition it is right now, hanging on by threads at this point. But who knows. Maybe, just maybe, I’d have been the number one pick for War Games as World Champion…
It’s pointless, really, to waste time thinking about the what ifs and alternate universes. Wishful thinking is a sad road that leads to further heartache.
Lesson learned. Experience gained. Mistakes not to be made again. Unless, you know, deja vu.
The LBI Victory is the single greatest highlight of my career. It’s also the last time I tasted victory.
Two and a half months. Twenty of the toughest competitors this industry has to offer. A pool that included a returning titan as well as a HOW Hall of Famer. Undefeated I went. Having to go head to head with my best friend, and have the match the two of us deep down had always wanted. It might not have been the grandest of stages, or for the biggest of prizes, but fuck if we weren’t going to treat it as such. And we did. And I won.
Enter Max Kael. Hall of Famer. Legend. More importantly, the last hurdle in my marathon.
This is a man, who admittedly, I’ve felt a deep connection with since coming here. Our paths keep crossing, and as fate currently projects, will keep crossing. On this night though, it was very different. It was just Ted and Max. No ladders. No partners. No one else to concern ourselves with. Ted and Max. One on one. And we beat the shit out of one another. And I loved every second of it.
And I won.
Beating Max hasn’t been a point to brag about and I haven’t bragged about it. Not once. It’s not something I’ll ever brag about, or rub anyones nose in. I’ll brag about being the LBI Winner, and I think that’s a right I’ve earned. I’ve detailed the hell I had to go through to claim that throne. What it took and what I had to overcome to crawl out the war torn victor. Anyone who is willing to listen, I’ll gladly tell them.
Beating Max, though. That was a badge of honour.
A badge that I wear with pride, and not for one second do I take it for granted. Look through the High Octane history books, and aside from the Best Family name, Kael is the one you’ll see most. Beating Max is just as important to me as winning the LBI, and it just so happens in this instance they are one in the same. It is the most important moment in my history, and it’s hard to imagine many moments passing that one by.
There’s just one slight problem. It’s not just my most recent ‘moment’. It’s also my most recent victory.
Last week I set fire to my past to make way for the future. This isn’t something I can set fire to. This is the history that haunts me, and has done so for over two months. My greatest achievement, my crowning moment has led me down the path of personal failures and shortcomings. Failed attempts at the World Championship, the LSD Championship, and qualifying for not only the War Games Main Event, but the recently announced Tag Team Championship War Games.
That is a fuck tonne of heartache. That is a fuck tonne of what ifs. That is a fuck tonne of fuel for doubt.
Those fuck tonnes have brought me back in front of the mirror, staring deep into those eyes that have a healthy fear of the truth, and the realities that stem from it
So I’m left to ask, ponder, and dwell on one very specific question: Have I peaked?
I don’t deserve this opportunity.
There isn’t a single person who could convince me otherwise, and in keeping with the theme of honesty, I don’t think there are too many lining up to do so. I can’t complain for one second about getting a fair shake here, if anything I could argue the contrary. I’ve been given too many opportunities.
Fun Fact: Red signed his contract a handful of days prior to me. At the time of his signing, he filled the final spot for the LBI tournament. I was originally on the outside looking in. Lee Best did what he does best though, and he created a vacancy for me to fill and compete in his namesake.
Since day one it’s been the opportunity I’ve been afforded here in the land of High Octane: opportunity after opportunity. It’s not a point of contention either, don’t mistake that for one second. I don’t deserve the parade of opportunities. I’m also not an idiot. You take what you’re given, when it’s given to you. You approach each and every opportunity like it’s your last.
Because at any point, it could be.
MJ, this is where I find myself. Where we find ourselves.
This could be it for me. It could be it for you. I know you’re approaching Saturday with the same motivation and desperation I am. The two of us paired together is perfect when you think about it. We’ve travelled along parallel paths the past few months, lived through our fair share of heartaches and disappointment, and are emotionally drained from this fucking chaotic spiral.
Perfect. On paper.
The reality is one of us is staying on that path. One of us will have to live through yet another wound. One of us might very well be drained of everything we have left. This match is everything. And it’s why I’m bringing everything I’ve got.
I have to.
On one hand, I’m thankful it’s you. Your battle with Murray was fucking unreal. There was no one in that arena routing harder for you than me. You were seconds away from destroying the foundation that 24K currently stands on. It would have changed everything as we currently know it. It would have been the first, and fatal blow dealt to those fuckers. Vanquished by MJ Flair, not GoD or anyone else.
So if I’m going to go down, I’d much rather it be to someone I respect.
On the other hand, it sucks that it’s you. I know what you’re going through, because I’m fucking living it. They say it’s better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all. Whoever first spoke that bullshit needs a kick in the nuts. Losing sucks. You know it, I know it. I don’t want to be the person who forces someone to stay on the path of misery. Unfortunately, there is no way around one of us losing. And I’m going to do my fucking best to make sure it’s you. And I’ll for damned sure make you proud of the journey I take afterwards.
Best of luck MJ. We are both in need of some.